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Light

Space

Massive stars lit up the early universe

After the Big Bang, it took several hundred million years for all the hydrogen and helium and some other gases floating around to start to coalesce into the first stars to light up the universe. New research shows these ancient suns would have clustered together to form extraordinarily bright groupings of stars. Read More

Levitating lightbulb takes Flyte

Need something to place alongside your levitating Bluetooth speaker? Or just sick of utilitarian lighting solutions anchored down by ghastly wires and fittings? It looks like progress in magnetic levitation, wireless charging and a particular product designer's brain have come together to save the day. Flyte is a globe that hovers freely above its base, offering a unique way to light up a room.Read More

Electronics

Graphene device makes ultrafast light to energy conversion possible

Converting light to electricity is one of the pillars of modern electronics, with the process essential for the operation of everything from solar cells and TV remote control receivers through to laser communications and astronomical telescopes. These devices rely on the swift and effective operation of this technology, especially in scientific equipment, to ensure the most efficient conversion rates possible. In this vein, researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (Institut de Ciències Fotòniques/ICFO) in Barcelona have demonstrated a graphene-based photodetector they claim converts light into electricity in less than 50 quadrillionths of a second. Read More

Science

Artificial "skin" changes color in response to minute force

A thin and flexible chameleon-like material developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley changes color when stretched or bent even tiny amounts. With potential applications in camouflage, structural fatigue sensors, display technologies, and more, the material's color changes reliably as it gets flexed thanks to rows of ridges that are precisely etched onto a silicon film one thousand times thinner than a human hair.Read More

Physics

Image captures light as both wave and particle for very first time

In 1905, Albert Einstein provided an explanation of the photoelectric effect – that various metals emit electrons when light is shined on them – by suggesting that a beam of light is not simply a wave of electromagnetic radiation, but is also made up of discrete packets of energy called photons. Though a long accepted tenet in physics, no experiment has ever directly observed this wave/particle duality. Now, however, researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland claim to have captured an image of this phenomenon for the first time ever.Read More

Quantum Computing

New micro-ring resonator creates quantum entanglement on a silicon chip

The quantum entanglement of particles, such as photons, is a prerequisite for the new and future technologies of quantum computing, telecommunications, and cyber security. Real-world applications that take advantage of this technology, however, will not be fully realized until devices that produce such quantum states leave the realms of the laboratory and are made both small and energy efficient enough to be embedded in electronic equipment. In this vein, European scientists have created and installed a tiny "ring-resonator" on a microchip that is claimed to produce copious numbers of entangled photons while using very little power to do so.Read More

Mobile Technology

Prototype Microsoft system uses indoor light to wirelessly charge phones

Wireless charging pads may be more convenient than traditional wired smartphone chargers, but a team from Microsoft Research in China thinks that they're still not convenient enough. According to Yunxin Liu, Zhen Qin and Chunshui Zhao, pads still require users to consciously place their phone in a specific spot, for the express purpose of charging. Instead, they envision a system in which users just toss their phone onto a table, where it's automatically charged using a beam of light. They've already built a working prototype of the system, which is known as AutoCharge. Read More

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